Samuel Alito is a big booster of presidential power. Other "constitutional scholars" have been less sanguine. On April 20, 1795, James Madison, who had just helped shepherd through the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and would become President of the United States in the following decade, wrote:
That Jack Abramoff exclusively gave his money to conservative Republicans shouldn't surprise us. While the RNC will try to spin this as "politics" and not as a Republican scandal, much as Bush called his old friend and business associate Ken Lay an "equal opportunity corruptor," the reality is that it's not a corruption that has infected both parties, nor could it be. To understand why, we have to understand the core conservative governing principle - aristocracy.
The oldest human right defined in the history of English-speaking civilization is the right to challenge that "power of the executive" through the use of habeas corpus laws. Habeas corpus is roughly Latin for "hold the body," and is used in law to mean that a government must either charge a person with a crime or let them go free. And last week, U.S. Senate Republicans (with the help of five Senate Democrats) passed a bill that would begin to take down that right.
In a May 25, 2001 interview, Grover Norquist told National Public Radio's Mara Liasson, "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." Norquist got his wish. Democracy - and at least several thousand people, most of them Democrats, black, and poor - drowned last week in the basin of New Orleans. Our nation failed in its response, because for most of the past 25 years conservatives who don't believe in governance have run our government.
It's becoming increasingly clear that the way Bush lied us into invading Iraq, particularly the timing of it all (ginning it up just before the 2002 midterm elections), was done largely so Republicans could win take back the Senate in 2002 after losing it because of Jim Jeffords' defection, and so Bush could win the White House in the election of 2004.
Often history tells us how the future may turn out.... But most relevant to today's situation were John Adams' version of Bush's Saddam stories when Adams sent three emissaries to France and criminals soliciting bribes approached them late one evening. Adams referred to these three unidentified Frenchmen as "Mr. X, Mr. Y, and Mr. Z," and made them out to represent such an insult and a threat against America that it may presage war.
...Which leaves George W. Bush, as the only other person on that plane with the means, opportunity, and motive.
The Bush administration is spectacularly good at sleight-of-hand tricks, directing public attention in one direction while they're working diligently in another. The latest trial balloon of "probable" Supreme Court nominees is no exception. While everybody is worried about abortion rights and corporate power, a far more insidious agenda may be at play.
The real scandal of the Downing Street Memos, with the greatest potential to leave the Bush presidency in permanent disgrace, is their implication that lies may have been put forward to help Bush, Republicans, and Blair politically. If Bush lied to gain and keep political power, precedent suggests he and his collaborators in the administration may even be vulnerable to impeachment.
This morning I called the Democratic National Committee to tell them that I support Howard Dean's modern-day version of Harry Truman's dictum that, "I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell."
[Thom Hartmann] I'm wondering, what is your opinion on the legality of Guantanamo Bay and what do you think of the construction of a death chamber there, which was reported by the BBC yesterday?
[George Galloway] Well, it's an utterly illegal process which is being followed.
In his recent news conference, George Bush Jr. suggested that our nation's "problem" with high gasoline prices was caused by the lack of a national energy policy, and tried to blame it all on Bill Clinton. First, Junior said, "This is a problem that's been a long time in coming. We haven't had an energy policy in this country." As is so often the case, Bush was lying.
Just as we occasionally see community fundraising efforts surface with donation collection cans in convenience stores for local folks experiencing medical emergencies, today the progressive community is working to save one of its own.
Why would a multi-multi-millionaire Senator, who consistently votes to harm the hungry and the poor who so concerned Jesus, join forces with religious fundamentalists to stack this nation's highest courts? Could it be because he and his wealthy Republican friends see huge financial benefits for themselves and their corporate patrons in a compliant court?
At what point does great wealth held in a few hands actually harm democracy, threatening to turn a democratic republic into an oligarchy? It's a debate we haven't had freely and openly in this nation for nearly a century, and last week, by voting to end the Estate Tax, House Republicans tried to ensure that it wouldn't be had again in this generation. But it's a debate that's vital to the survival of democracy in America.